Lincoln Barrett is the horror movie enthusiast who grew up in rural Wales, but as High Contrast, few musical pseudonyms come in higher regard. His music has re-defined drum & bass since the days when mini-discs were popular, signing his first record deal in 2000 on the back of early demos he recorded on the long-forgotten format. These records thankfully made their way into the hands of the right people, and since then, his influence within UK club culture cannot be understated. His music encompasses a fragility and soul that can be sometimes lost in the rough and ready world of DnB. He can cite Adele and Underworld as his musical collaborators, and is one of the few artists to have had his music heard by a global audience of billions at London’s 2012 olympics.
But while his name is synonymous within D&B, he’s an artist whose selections span far beyond bass-heavy records that keep club basements moving until the early hours. He’s equally as drawn to classical film scores as he is new age disco records that wake you up in the morning, and is someone who uses the music tastes of his father to inspire his production process today. Before he touches down in Bristol on 14th October alongside Fred V & Grafix, Danny Byrd, the iconic Fabio & Grooverider and a hand-picked selection of Hospitality’s closest family members, High Contrast introduces us to the diversity of his musical world in five tracks.
1. A record I play at peak time
Dimension – UK
He’s one of the best new skool producers around, and his records have racked up an impressive number of anthems in a pretty short time. ‘UK’ was something very different from him, having more of a classic jungle sound than his usual hi-tech, synthy sound. I think it was inspired by ‘Gosh’ by Jamie XX, but it really does it’s own thing as well. The breakdown in the middle of the track is one of the best I’ve heard in years, and it creates such a special moment on the dancefloor that I love playing the track out in full at the peak of a night.
2. A record I use to start off a show
High Contrast – Questions
I think playing one of your own tunes is usually a good way to open up a dj set. And this tune helps me to stand out from other DJs as I often come on after people who play a lot harder than I do, so spinning something so light and feel good to me. It makes a bit of a statement, one that says that this set is gonna be different to what you’ve been hearing so far.
3. A record that wakes me up in the morning
Chilly Gonzales – You Can Dance
Chilly is one of my favourite contemporary musicians, and I love that he blends his musical skills with rap and even stand-up comedy in his live shows. This track is such a blissfully epic disco journey that it can’t help but pick you up in the morning. It reminds me of something you’d hear in an 80s Hollywood teen movie, like during a montage where the good guys are making shit happen.
4. A record I heard in my childhood that I still love today
The Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road
This is a track my Dad used to play when I was growing up. He’s massively into old rock’n’roll. I had forgotten about it until I heard it again in an episode of Mad Men and became obsessed with it once more. I bought a 45rpm vinyl of it and began playing it out during the occasional soul sets that I like to do sometimes. I also set about trying to make a cover version of the track in my studio. I turned it into a drum & bass tune called ‘Tobacco Road’ that you can now hear on my new album, Night Gallery.
5. A record I could play forever
Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold
Morricone is my all time favourite composer. He’s done so many brilliant film scores in his time, from Westerns to gangster films to war films. He can do it all, and this is one of his most famous and haunting pieces which comes from the climax to ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’. I first heard it when I was a kid, and it remains a great source of inspiration for me to this day.